ITALY …. (continued)
Continuing on from my previous blog about the time we lived in a remote village in Italy for two months;
Luscignano was situated in the rugged mountains of Northern Tuscany. Home for us was a tiny villa inside the stone wall of the village. Each day we travelled in our leased car, to explore the countryside far and near. I spoke beginner Italian every day as there were no tourists or English-speaking people and that is why we chose Luscignano. My Italian was extremely amateurish, but the locals applauded and accepted my efforts.
We decided to have a day at home after several weeks exploring. My husband Rick (Ricardo) was an excellent driver, never fazed by the crazy Italians, the wrong side of the road and occasional ancient tractor or horse drawn dray. He needed a relaxing day while I completed domestic chores. Refusing his offer to help, he escaped to sit in the sunshine and read his book on his folding chair. While I manoeuvred the mop and bucket, vacuum cleaner and washing basket up and down the steep, narrow spiral staircase, I had a greater appreciation of the effort Rick put in to bringing me an early morning cup of tea! Over the noise of the vacuum cleaner, sometime later, I heard a very excited Rick at the front door.
‘Jen, Jen, I’ve just heard someone speaking English, in fact I think it might be Australian!’ he gasped.
‘Well, go and introduce yourself,’ was my obvious reply
We had been only hearing Italian for three weeks. When anyone approached, Rick would mutter to me, ‘Conversation opportunity,’ so I could understand his excitement.
He was gone for some time, allowing me to finish what I was doing.
That was the beginning if a wonderful week with a delightful couple from Perth. It happened to be another Jenny who was also learning Italian at Dante Alighieri, and her husband Clive. Jenny was more advanced than I, but we happily relaxed into English. Rick had a lot of words to spend. We enjoyed a fun night at their grand villa, a much more elegant venue than our hole in the wall.
Sometime before Rick and I had fallen upon an amazing restaurant in the hills with an amazing English chef. It was a stand-alone business in the middle of no-where. We were amazed at the food and wine and decided to gather some of the people we had met, volunteering at a local vendemmia (grape picking for the wine) and have lunch together with our new friends.
Well, the food was delicious once again, but we were a large, noisy group and the acoustics were terrible in the function room. Nobody could hear over the cacophony, but we all carried on regardless. I think the wine helped!
Our regular days of driving out in the morning having lunch on the road and returning late afternoon to chat to the local ladies, fell apart with the arrival of Jenny & Clive. Every evening we struggled back to our abode in the wee hours of the morning, hoping not to wake the neighbours with our giggling after a great night of food, wine and conversation.
We had a wonderful week until Jenny and Clive moved on with their travels. Soon peace was restored to the village allowing us to de-tox!
Rick was so happy to have had a week of English language and I was happy for him!
What an amazing co-incidence to meet fellow Australians in this remote area.
Once our original routine was restored I enjoyed meeting with the lovely old ladies from the village in the evening to recount our adventures and where we had been for the day. Their interest increased as our stay progressed. They found it impossible to grasp that we loved the village and country when we weren’t Italian. Their version of the famous ‘passeggiata’ (when the Itaians walk along the street in the evening as families to meet and chat) was to sit on their plastic chairs in a row and wait for me to join them, with my map. Mostly, they had never travelled as far as we did, and often their enthusiastic chatter together had me lost! We grew to love these traditional Italian women who welcomed us with great affection. We were invited into their homes for coffee (so strong I didn’t sleep for a week!) included in their pottery sessions, offered fruit and vegetables from their garden, and welcomed into their lives.
Thank you Luscignano
Cheers for now.
Jenny Old AUTHOR
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